I’ve started doing my weekly shop on a Tuesday, which means that Monday dinner is all about using up whatever is leftover from the previous week. I have a horror of wasting food, so I try really hard to use everything that I bought.
This week my leftovers included 500g of north Antrim Lamb mince – from a friend’s farm, so I knew it would be good stuff – a rather sad-looking Iceberg Lettuce, half a Cucumber, and leftover Mango from my favourite Summer salad – The warm Chicken tikka one – https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/warm-spicy-chicken-and-mango-salad/ which we had the other day..
I looked at the haul that had been trawled from the bottom of the fridge which needed to be used, and I came up with this variation on something that I read once.. I’m just calling it Crispy Spicy Lamb and Lentils in Lettuce Cups, which is exactly what it says on the tin..
I actually had a packet of Puy Lentils in the cupboard, which was lucky, but I think some drained chickpeas, lightly toasted in a pan and mashed, would be very good too.
Once I’d put the Lamb on to cook, I had plenty of time to make the two accompaniments, so this is actually a very speedy, delicious and different dinner – I’ll definitely be making this again.
- Medium-sized bowl
- Medium-sized frying pan
- Wooden spoon
- 2 smallish bowls
- Napkins – this can get messy, but only in the best way!
- 500g Minced Lamb – that’s what I had, but beef, or even minced Chicken would probably be just as good.
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground Cumin
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground Coriander
- 1/2 a green chilli, finely chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste.
- 100g Puy lentils, uncooked
- Lettuce leaves, washed, dried and separated into individual leaves – I used Iceberg which worked fine, but Cos or Little gem are probably a better size and shape.
- 2-3 heaped tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt
- 1/2 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cucumber – cut in quarters, seeds and skin removed, then diced
- Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
- Finely chopped fresh herbs – I used Fennel and Sage
- Put the Yoghurt into its serving bowl, then add all the other ingredients. Chill until needed.
- 1/2 a fresh Mango, chopped into small cubes
- 1/2 a red pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 fresh chilli, finely chopped
- Chopped fresh Coriander would be great in this if you have it.
- juice of 1/2 Lime
- Mix everything together in a bowl, then add the Lime juice. Garnish with the Coriander.
- Rinse the lentils in several changes of cold water, then cook gently, according to packet instructions, until tender. Drain and leave to one side.
- Put the Lamb, Cumin, Coriander, chopped Chilli and seasoning into the bowl and mix together until well combined.
- Turn out onto a clean board, and pat the spiced Lamb into a huge, burger-like shape, about 1-2cms deep.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pan until hot, then slide the ‘burger’ into the pan, and allow to cook for at least 5 minutes.
- As Lamb is a fatty meat, drain the oil off several times – I drained it onto damp kitchen paper in my food-waste bucket. Don’t put it down the sink!
- Cook gently until both sides are very crispy, turning it over halfway through.
- While the lamb is cooking, you can make your accompaniments, and sort out the Lettuce leaves, and put all three into their separate serving dishes.
- Shortly before you’re planning to serve, break up the Lamb into smallish chunks, then mix in the cooked Lentils, stir well together. Let them cook together on a reduced heat, until you’re ready to serve.
- Transfer the Lamb/Lentils mixture into a warmed serving dish – or plonk the frying pan into the middle of the table, if you’re feeling rustic! Add serving spoons so that everyone can help themselves. You might want to keep kids away from the hot pan..
- Place a dessertspoon of the Lamb/Lentil mixture into a Lettuce cup, top with one or both accompaniments – I like both – then roll up as you would roll a wrap – folding in the short edges – and tuck in..
- Don’t forget the napkins – this can get a little messy!
- Served cold, this would be great as picnic food too.
- Naturally, you can use proper corn or flour Tortilla wraps to eat this if you prefer. It was a very warm day when I made this, so the lettuce cups suited us beautifully.